The good news: Ricky Rubio, the #5 overall pick in the 2009 draft and one of the most dynamic point guard talents in the world, is coming to the NBA and joining the team that drafted him.
The bad news: Rubio really didn’t give Timberwolves fans much to get excited about during his last season with FC Barcelona.
The numbers are ugly: In 23.75 minutes per game last season, Rubio averaged 6.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on 39.2%/22.4%/83.6% shooting, and 1.8 turnovers per game.
Rubio is a big guard who plays great defense and is exceptionally creative in the open floor, two things that will serve him well in the NBA, and FC Barcelona’s style of play didn’t suit Rubio’s game very well. Still, 6.5 points per game on 39% shooting is 6.5 points on 39% shooting.
The most favorable comparisons for Rubio may be Boston’s Rajon Rondo or Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings. Rondo is a big guard, a tremendously creative passer, a two-way player, has a broken jumper, and played in a system that didn’t suit him.
There are issues with both comparisons. As bad as Jennings (who called Rubio “all hype” when both players were in Europe) was in Europe, he didn’t get nearly as much playing time as Rubio did, and had something that Rubio doesn’t currently possess: a smooth jumper, which allowed him to immediately make an impact as a scoring guard in the NBA.
And while Rondo slid far further than he should have in the draft because Kentucky played in a slow-down system that wasn’t tailored towards him, he was still more successful than Rubio was: Rondo averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game during his last season at Kentucky, and shot 48.2% from the field. Like Rubio, Rondo doesn’t have much of a jumper to speak of, but unlike Rubio, Rondo seems to have always known how to score efficiently without having to make many jump shots. Rubio’s stroke is better than Rondo’s, but he may need to make some dramatic leaps as a shooter to be effective as a scorer in the NBA.
Rubio is talented, and the NBA game is dramatically different from the international game, so it’s impossible to make a solid prediction on how Rubio will do in the NBA. But based on what he showed in Barcelona last year, Rubio has given NBA fans plenty to be skeptical about.